It’s no secret, but many of us don’t want to acknowledge it: Multitasking is dangerous to our health, safety and relationships. Even though we think we’re being efficient by doing several things at once, the truth is we’re putting our health and happiness on the line.
Everyday dangers of multitasking
Texting and driving has become a cause of fatal car crashes. Even “distracted driving” or not paying attention while operating machinery can cause fatal incidents. In addition to these physical dangers, multitasking is also keeping us from optimal learning. The more we multitask, the less we mentally focus, so we learn and retain less. Multitasking is keeping us from getting the most out of our workouts because we are too distracted to exercise most effectively. The list goes on.
Multitasking can ruin relationships
The rise in multitasking is increasingly damaging our ability to effectively communicate with others. Because communication is the foundation of our business and personal relationships, multitasking can be very detrimental to nearly all of our relationships.
Do you routinely take phone calls or type away on your keyboard during a conversation, listen to music in the middle of a conversation, watch television during a conversation, instant-message or text during a conversation, think about unrelated topics during a conversation? When we engage in communicative multitasking, we basically convey that we are too busy to care about what others have to say. Your spouse, kids, friends and co-workers want your full attention, and if you multitask instead, you may just multitask your way into isolation and unhappiness.
Multitasking hurts others
If you’re not paying full attention to someone while they are trying to talk with you, it’s only natural for them to think that they are not important enough to deserve your undivided attention. They may feel the content or subject of their communication is not being heard or that it is not even important to you. They may also feel disrespected. They may think of you as rude and lacking manners. The result is damage to your relationships. Not exactly the result you were hoping for, right?
Tune in and listen up
If you focus and concentrate exclusively on listening to people when you’re in a conversation, you will show others that they matter. You’ll also show them that you can be attentive, focused, diligent, cooperative, interested, caring and respectful — all attractive qualities. And if you simply can’t give others undivided attention, simply reschedule your conversation.
In addition to not multitasking while conversing with others, I encourage you to refrain from multitasking in all areas of your life so you can get the most out of every activity. You’ll find that the more engaged you are in your relationships and activities, the happier you can be.
For more information on the dangers of multitasking and how to improve your communication skills, pick up Attractive Communication: 300 Ways to Make Communication More Attractive (Publish International, 2012).